Some bucket lists take years to complete but McHenry County’s Ultimate Autumn Bucket List can be done in one weekend. Families, couples and individual visitors alike can enjoy international ski jumpers, an afternoon at an apple orchard, get lost in a corn maze or find the best of the season at one of our many produce farms.
For a truly ultimate experience, the Norge Ski Club, one of the top learning centers for Olympic ski jumping in the USA, hosts the 33rd Annual Norge Autumn Ski Jump and Food Truck Festival on . Five jumps from beginner to advanced are available year-round since skiers can even jump without snow. Fans are encouraged to bring their cow bells and appetite while they watch ski jumpers from around the world compete on the 70-meter hill.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard has the country’s first maze composed entirely of mature apple trees. Named “Amaze-N-Apples,” it is planted with 3,000 apple trees in 4+ acres where you wander through 1.5-miles of walking trails while picking from nine different varieties of apples. After finding your way out, the bakery offers fresh apple cider doughnuts or shop for beautiful fall décor or Christmas gifts at the Country Gift Store. The farm has over 17,000 apple trees including 30 varieties of apples in the u-pick apple orchard along with pre-picked apples, pumpkins, giant pumpkins, gourds and squash for purchase.
All Seasons Orchard has everything for a day of family fun with more than 30 different activities. Visitors can pick apples or pumpkins, explore the 10-acre corn maze or play in the barnyard. Other activities include a jumping pillow, pedal kart races, pig races, magic shows, Bunny Village and there’s even a zip line. Apple cider and caramel corn are great for the ride home.
The annual Autumn Drive in Woodstock is held where residents offer antiques, crafts, food and fun. Local farms open their barns to offer fall produce, honey, jams, soaps and vinegar.
Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove has become an annual destination offering more than 30 activities. The World's Largest Corn Maze features 9 - 10 miles of trail winding through 28 acres of live corn. The maze is created from 4 smaller mazes with dedicated in and out paths. Multiple checkpoints throughout the maze and three bridges help find your bearings along with as map for a challenging and fun experience.
“This year’s corn maze theme celebrates the Illinois Bicentennial, honoring the 200th anniversary of the state’s founding,” said Wendy Richardson, family owner. “Once we settled on a theme, the design came naturally.” The maze features the Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, Chicago skyscrapers, the state capitol and Abraham Lincoln dominates the center, along with symbols of Illinois agriculture with a barn, silo, tractor, row crops, apple trees and pumpkins.
Other activities include: 700' Zip Line, 50' Observation Tower, ORBiting! (Ride Inside a Giant, 11' Ball), Live Pig Races, Jumping Pillows, Giant Slides, Pedal Carts, Wagon Rides, Pumpkin Patch, Picnic Areas and Campfires (by reservation) with plenty of free parking.
Stades Farm and Market has been known for more than 40 years as a “farmtastic” theme park plus farm-fresh veggies and seasonal treats like cider donuts and pumpkin pie.
Von Bergens Country Market is an experience for the whole family with fresh autumn produce, pumpkin patch and activities for the kids, including getting their photo taken on the big red chair.
Tom’s Farm Market in Huntley offers evening fun with the “spook free” Moonlight Corn Maze and Hayride. Families bring flashlights and enjoy a night of exploring, bonfires and refreshments like s’mores, hot apple cider and hot chocolate.
“In addition to the farms and myriad mazes, there are so many fall festivals taking place in McHenry County,” according to Kristine Austin, a spokesperson for Visit McHenry County. “From the Johnny Appleseed Festival where you can meet Johnny himself, to the Huntley Fall Fest, Harvard Balloon Fest, Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival, Oktoberfest at Crystal Lake Brewing, Cary Main Street Fest, Richmond WineWalk, Woodstock Ale Fest, Cider Festival, and Wilmot Mountain Fall Fest, McHenry County has the ultimate autumn bucket list and we invite people to start checking it off!”
Road trippers can explore the autumn foliage. The McHenry County Conservation District is home to over 24,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, wetlands, ponds, creeks and rivers that come to life in autumn. There are 30 public sites where visitors can hike, bike, boat, fish, camp and enjoy watching wildlife.
For those hunting (or bobbing) for apples, pumpkins or simply a laid-back, colorful place to be, McHenry County is exceptionally beautiful this time of year.
Bucket list challenge accepted?